From 2008 to 2010, the city of Palm Coast collected more than $1.7 million in red light camera citations within Flagler County.
There's a problem, though: A ruling last week by the Florida Supreme Court means those fines were illegally collected.
The Mark Wandell Traffic Safety Act, which was passed in 2010, gave cities in Florida direction on how to operate a red light camera program. But, Palm Coast installed the cameras in 2008 and began collecting fines.
Last week's ruling by the Florida Supreme Court, which involved cases in Orlando and Aventura, set precedent for all cities with cameras installed before the 2010 act was passed — stating those tickets were invalid.
Instead of issuing refunds, though, Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts said the city will wait for additional instructions from the courts.
"At some point, a court — the courts — will outline what the appropriate behavior, reaction, repayment, refunding for a city would be," Netts said Tuesday.
Attorney Ron Hertel, who has a number of clients with pre-2010 citations, said that since Palm Coast was one of the cities to take the lead in installing the red light cameras, it should take the lead in repaying the citations collected.
"I think that they should probably not just wait and see," Hertel said. "They should probably take an active role in deciding how it will deal with its own issues, with its own citizens."
The city isn't cutting refund checks just yet. But if that time comes, City Manager Jim Landon said it will not make Palm Coast go bankrupt.
"All the naysayers that are out there saying we're going to collapse as a result of this — it's almost amazing as to how the rumors and stories can get started," Landon said.
Landon said the city would simply repay the money from the city's capital improvement funds, and no tax increase would be needed.
Last month, the city began talks with American Traffic Solutions — the Arizona-based company which owns the 43 cameras in Palm Coast — about loosening or cutting the contract, which runs through 2019.